Spending this year should top out at about $300 million, but next year, Advertising Age predicts, the total may only reach $500 million.
That's not all bad. As marketing on the Net gets more sophisticated, the definition of advertising will shift and slide. What portion of the Time Warner/Procter & Gamble Co. Parent Time joint venture is considered ad spending? If Sun Microsystems sponsors a chat with one of its execs on the Electric Minds site, is that advertising?
If online ad spending doesn't grow as fast next year, it's not a sign of failure. The smart marketers and publishers will be looking not only beyond the banner, but beyond the ad for what they can do on the Net.